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The relative effectiveness of government and private schools in Pakistan: are girls worse off?


  • Monazza Aslam


Recent evidence from Pakistan points to significant pro-male bias within households in the allocation of education expenditures. This raises two important questions. Is less spent on enrolled girls than boys through differential school-type choice for the two sexes; for example, through a greater likelihood of sending boys to fee-charging private schools? And, if indeed this is the case, are girls thereby condemned to lower quality schooling, on average, than boys? By asking these questions, this paper makes three contributions to the literature. Firstly, this is one of a very few studies in Pakistan to explore the question of the relative effectiveness of public and private schools despite there being an unpreedeconnted expansion of fee-charging private schools in the past two decades. Secondly, unlike existing papers that focus on primary schooling, this study looks at potential learning gaps by school type for students in their last year of middle school (Grade Eight), very near their transition to secondary schooling. Thirdly, it exploits unique, purposively-collected data from government and private school students, and thus, in estimating achievement production functions, is able to control for a number of variables typically 'unobserved' by researchers. The findings reveal that boys are indeed more likely to be sent to private schools than girls within the household, so that differential school-type choice is an important channel of differential treatment against girls. Private schools are also found to be of better quality - they are more effective than government schools in imparting mathematics and literacy skills. Girls lose out vis-a-vis boys in terms not only of lower within-household educational expenditures, but also in terms of the quality of schooling accessed.

Suggested Citation

  • Monazza Aslam, 2009. "The relative effectiveness of government and private schools in Pakistan: are girls worse off?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 329-354.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:17:y:2009:i:3:p:329-354 DOI: 10.1080/09645290903142635

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Estimating teacher effectiveness from two-year changes in students' test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 480-488, June.
    2. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2006. "School Quality and the Black-White Achievement Gap," NBER Working Papers 12651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steve Bradley & Mirko Draca & Colin Green & Gareth Leeves, 2007. "The magnitude of educational disadvantage of indigenous minority groups in Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(3), pages 547-569, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Azam, Mehtabul & Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2013. "Are Girls the Fairer Sex in India? Revisiting Intra-Household Allocation of Education Expenditure," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 143-164.
    2. Tahir Andrabi & Jishnu Das & Asim Ijaz Khwaja, 2015. "Delivering education: a pragmatic framework for improving education in low-income countries," Chapters,in: Handbook of International Development and Education, chapter 6, pages 85-130 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Aslam, Monazza & Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2012. "Parental Education and Child Health—Understanding the Pathways of Impact in Pakistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 2014-2032.
    4. Azam, Mehtabul & Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2013. "Are Girls the Fairer Sex in India? Revisiting Intra-Household Allocation of Education Expenditure," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 143-164.

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    privatisation; school choice; gender bias; Pakistan;


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